The discussion centred around food traditions, food science and food chain, with call to all Singaporeans to cook more at home if the city-state is to truly be the culinary capital of Asia
SINGAPORE is loosing its indigenous food culture as less and less Singaporeans are cooking at home. “We already have an entire generation of Singaporeans, who were brought up on the hawker food culture. Even that is being lost now with younger generation of hawker stall owners are not willing to take up the family-business. The need of the hour is to demystify local foods and motivate people to cook at home,” said Christopher Tan, food consultant and writer of the book - Chinese heritage cooking. “Or the day is not far, when we will have more people blogging about food than actually cooking it.”
Leong Lai Peng, senior lecturer in food science and technology programme at the National University of Singapore, supported Tan's idea and added, “We must also look at putting our traditional food items at super-market shelves so that the authentic local food tastes are not lost to the young generation.” She also shared her experiences as a food technologist in preserving traditional tastes and making home-cooking easier for the modern lifestyle.
Giving an example of intelligent application of technology in food industry, Tan said, “In India, they use electric-driven stone grinder for preparing rice to cook thosai. While electricity reduces the manual labour involved, stone helps in preserving the authentic taste of the dish.”
On questions why one doesn't find a fine-dining restaurant serving Singaporean cuisine, Tan further explained, “Firstly, its very difficult to define Singaporean cuisine. Secondly, there is not enough demand. There were few restaurants serving what can broadly be classified as our national cuisine in the past. All closed down due to not enough demand. But as the country ages, there is huge scope for employing our aged population in home-made food business, which is generally not much demanding.”
"Food-chained" from China
Finally, as audiences expressed concerns with Singapore's over-dependence on China for its food supplies, especially in the context of recent food scams there, Audra Ang, writer of the book - To the people, food is heaven – based on her experiences of working as a journalist and eating in China, said, “While its true that the entire food supply chain in China is murky, I hope that the export quality products will be better as it gives China a bad name internationally. But it remains a grey area and I advise Singaporeans to make informed choices regarding food coming from China.”
Peng, however assured, “Singapore's regulator, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, is very good at its job and I don't see any reason for Singaporeans to be worried about imported food items in the country.”